Pak flood disaster could open doors for Taliban resurgence: Officials

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Islamabad, Aug 10(ANI): Pakistani officials claim that the unprecedented devastation caused by the worst floods in the country's history could open the doors for a Taliban resurgence.

An expert said that the floods have devastated the basic infrastructure, which would assist the militants, who in the past have capitalized on the government's failure to provide basic services.

Over the past year, the Pakistan Army had succeeded in driving Taliban fighters out of key sanctuaries in South Waziristan and the Swat Valley, but the damage from the floods could jeopardize those gains.

Officials believe that the situation can only be thwarted if infrastructure is quickly rebuilt-an undertaking that will cost billions of dollars and will probably take years. It will take us months just to get the electricity back in Swat. For now, people are living in darkness," The Washington Post quoted Rahim Dad Khan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Planning Minister, as saying.

Khan said that all plans for development in the northwest have been cancelled, and the money diverted to help flood affected people.

"We thought we would build roads, hospitals and schools. But now, everything we were planning is ruined," he added.

The Pakistan Army also acknowledges that the Taliban would try to seize the opportunity, but they claim that they would not let it happen.

"We have not let down our guard. The safeguards are still in place," said Brigadier General Tippu Karim, who is overseeing relief efforts for Swat and other northwestern areas.

Karim said that reconstruction would be the top priority as soon as Pakistan can get past the immediate challenge of rescuing stranded residents and providing them with food and shelter.

Over 1,600 people have been killed and 15 million affected as raging floodwaters continue to wreak havoc in the country.

In addition to causing major human loses, it has destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, washed away crops and livestock.

Relief and rescue work has been hit badly by continuous rains, particularly in the north western region.

The United Nations says that Pakistan will need billions of dollars to recover from the deluge, which is being described as the worst in the last 80 years. (ANI)

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